David Foster Wallace’s work goes to Sundance


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It seems, at first, like a strange matchup: actor John Krasinski (‘The Office’) has made a movie version of David Foster Wallace’s ‘Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.’ But Krasinski was a Brown student -- which takes some intellectual chops -- when he first became enchanted with ‘Brief Interviews,’ and he doesn’t see the movie as a replacement for the book. ‘This movie can never achieve the wave of unbridled imagination one gets the first time one reads any of Foster Wallace’s work,’ Krasinski told IndieWire. ‘But with any luck, it will at least do the book justice.’

It’s the first time David Foster Wallace’s work has made it to the screen. Perhaps its big ideas and nests of footnotes made it resistant; maybe it was the hulking size -- ‘Infinite Jest’ is more than 1,000 pages long. And ‘Brief Interviews with Hideous Men’ is a short story collection, which doesn’t make film adaptation much easier. But Krasinski was convinced that he had a way to fit them all together. This week, he told the L.A. Times about explaining it to David Foster Wallace:


‘He said, ‘What’s it scripted around?’ ‘ [Krasinski] remembers. ‘I said, ‘A woman doing her dissertation around feminism looking into the role of the modern man in the post-feminist era.’ There was a silence. And he said, ‘I never figured out how to do that, how to make them all relate together. That sounds awesome.’ It was probably one of the greatest days of my life!’

That woman is played by Julianne Nicholson; the movie also features Timothy Hutton, Bobby Cannavale, Will Forte, Krasinski and Josh Charles (in this clip) as some of the hideous men. The film is one of 16 in the dramatic film competition at the Sundance Film Festival. It will premiere Monday night -- a pair of tickets is listed for $120 on Craisglist Salt Lake City.

Wallace took his own life in September. ‘It’s such a tragedy on every level,’ Krasinski says of Wallace’s death. ‘That’s a loss I don’t think anyone can fully fathom. No one will write the way he did.’

-- Carolyn Kellogg